Today is my stop on the blog tour for ‘Goldilocks’ by Laura, organised by Random Things Tours. I had been fascinated by this book when I’d first heard it, so I was delighted to have participate in this tour, and I hope that you will check out both the author and the book.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.’*
A bold, thought provoking and high-concept feminist dystopian thriller
Ravaged by environmental disaster, greed and oppression, our planet is in crisis. The future of humanity hangs in the balance – and one woman can tip it over.
Despite increasing restrictions on the freedoms of women on Earth, Valerie Black is spearheading the first all-female mission to a planet in the Goldilocks Zone, where conditions are just right for human habitation.
It’s humanity’s last hope for survival, and Naomi, Valerie’s surrogate daughter and the ship’s botanist, has been waiting her whole life for an opportunity like this – to step out of Valerie’s shadow and really make a difference.
But when things start going wrong on the ship, Naomi starts to suspect that someone on board is concealing a terrible secret – and realises time for life on Earth may be running out faster than they feared…
Goldilocks was a book that hit home. Perhaps the current context has made it more relevant, but this exploration of a future that is a worryingly recognisable possibility stands above and beyond that. It is a warning of what could happen, to a world that is rapidly approaching possible tipping points beyond which action might not be possible. It offers a vivid, realistic vision of what the future could be for the environment, for humanity and for women. And it drove it home because above all else this was a story about people, about family, and survival. It was wrapped in something familiar and personal, and that made the narrative all the more powerful.
An aspect of SF that I have sometimes struggled with is believability when it comes to the science, but Goldilocks blew straight through any doubts or reservations I might have had. The details – perfectly balanced to draw us into the world, to make us see it and believe the possibilities of what was being done, without detracting from the story – gripped me. I was fascinated with the botany on the ship, the problem solving, and more than that, it felt real, even when it branched out into space travel beyond anything we have now.
The characters though are what make this book. Every single one of these women is beautifully and thoroughly developed, and even though we don’t follow them all in so much detail as we do Naomi, by the end of the story, I felt as though I knew them just as well. They were fierce women, standing apart because of their talents, as well as their choices to risk everything for a future, and a chance to escape the dystopian society that stood against them. But, each one of them was much more than that. They had complex relationships with each other, with themselves and where they had come from and what they had left behind, hopes for the future, dreams and doubts. There were no linear paths, no simple conclusions, and the characters were constantly growing and changing, shaped by the events occurring in Space and back on Earth, even as they shaped those events.
The writing throughout was spectacular, and the pacing was spot on throughout, the tension bleeding into the pages between moments of calm, of friendship and family. The flashbacks adding depth to the story, adding context and backstory, that not only drove the narrative forward and gave it more meaning but made so that we could understand why these five women are here. Why they took this path, and to understand the decisions that they make. Choices that we would never be able to imagine ourselves making, or that we would claim that we would never be able to make – and to empathise with their choices, to understand the logic that was often uncomfortable.
This was a fantastic read that I devoured in the space of a day as I couldn’t tear myself away from what was happening and the possibility of what could happen next (and most of the time, I was caught by surprise). Goldilocks is a beautiful example of how Science Fiction can explore the future and make it heartbreakingly human. It has left me with a lot to think about and is without a doubt, one of my favourite books this year and probably beyond.
About the Author
Laura Lam is the author of several science fiction books, including Radio 2 Book
Club selection False Hearts. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in
anthologies such as Nasty Women, Solaris Rising 3, Cranky Ladies of History,
Scotland in Space, and more.
Originally from California, she now lives in Scotland with her husband, and
teaches Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University.
Goldilocks – Laura Lam (Published in hardback by Wildfire, 30th April 2020) – ***** (5/5 Stars)
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.